The plant is expected to create up to 400 jobs in the region of Aquitaine and represent a total investment of approximately EUR100 million ($150 million(1)). The decision to focus on Blanquefort for the manufacturing plant follows an extensive review of potential sites throughout the country. First Solar and EDF EN expect to finalize all remaining agreements in the coming weeks.
First Solar and EDF EN believe that France will become a major market for solar electricity in Europe thanks in large part to forward-looking French solar policies.
"Blanquefort is the ideal location for our second manufacturing facility in Europe and producing there will bring us closer to the French solar market, which we believe has the potential to become one of Europe’s brightest," said Rob Gillette, Chief Executive Officer of First Solar. "We look forward to deepening our relationship with France. Aquitaine has impressed us with its passion, excellent infrastructure and highly skilled workforce."
"EDF Energies Nouvelles is very proud to see the achievement of a key milestone in this strategic partnership with First Solar. Securing a competitive supply of modules will allow us to optimize and speed up the deployment of our ambitious French solar program," said David Corchia, Chief Executive Officer of EDF Energies Nouvelles. "We also believe that this will be a key catalyst in the development of a strong solar industry in France."
First Solar’s manufacturing site will also include a facility for recycling solar panels, France’s first such facility. First Solar operates the solar industry’s first comprehensive, pre-funded collection and recycling program to encourage the recovery of its panels and re-use of materials.
First Solar manufactures solar modules with an advanced semiconductor technology and provides comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) system solutions. By continually driving down manufacturing costs, First Solar is delivering an economically viable alternative to fossil-fuel generation today. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life collection and recycling, First Solar is focused on creating cost-effective, renewable energy solutions that protect and enhance the environment.
EDF Energies Nouvelles: With operations in ten European countries and in America, EDF Energies Nouvelles is a market leader in renewable energies. With a development focused on wind energy for several years and more recently on solar photovoltaic, now a second priority avenue of development, the Group is also present in other segments of the renewable energies market: small hydro, biomass, biofuel and biogas. In addition, the Group is expanding its presence in the distributed renewable energies sector. EDF Energies Nouvelles is a 50 %-owned subsidiary of the EDF Group. Since November 2006, EDF Energies Nouvelles is listed in Euronext Paris, code "EEN", ISIN code: FR0010400143).